2001 Montana Legislature

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SENATE BILL NO. 135

INTRODUCED BY M. WATERMAN

Montana State Seal

AN ACT GENERALLY REVISING THE STATUTES REGARDING THE MENTAL HEALTH MANAGED CARE OMBUDSMAN; EXPANDING WHOSE INTERESTS THE OMBUDSMAN MAY REPRESENT; PROVIDING CONFIDENTIALITY FOR NAMES AND MATERIAL FROM AN INVESTIGATION; ALLOWING THE OMBUDSMAN TO RECEIVE CONFIDENTIAL MENTAL HEALTH RECORDS; AND AMENDING SECTIONS 2-15-210 AND 53-21-166, MCA.



BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF MONTANA:



     Section 1.  Section 2-15-210, MCA, is amended to read:

     "2-15-210.  Mental health managed care ombudsman. (1) There is a mental health managed care ombudsman. The ombudsman must be appointed by the governor for a term of 4 years. The ombudsman is attached to the mental disabilities board of visitors office of the governor for administrative purposes.

     (2) The ombudsman shall provide an annual report to the governor and to the legislature, as required by 5-11-210, and may include recommendations regarding the mental health system.

     (3) The ombudsman shall represent the interests of consumers of individuals with regard to the need for public mental health services with the contractor or the department of public health and human services under the mental health provisions of Title 53, chapters 6 and 21, including individuals in transition from public to private services. The ombudsman may not provide a legal advocacy service.

     (4)  The ombudsman may retain counsel for legal support.

     (5)  Names of individuals receiving assistance from the ombudsman and information associated with an individual compiled by the ombudsman in the course of conducting an investigation are confidential and privileged information and may not be disclosed unless a court has determined that certain information is subject to compulsory legal process or discovery because the party seeking the information has demonstrated that there is a compelling state interest that outweighs the individual's privacy interest or the information is requested pursuant to an investigative subpoena issued under 46-4-301."



     Section 2.  Section 53-21-166, MCA, is amended to read:

     "53-21-166.  Records to be confidential -- exceptions. All information obtained and records prepared in the course of providing any services under this part to individuals under any provision of this part shall be are confidential and privileged matter and shall must remain confidential and privileged after the individual is discharged from the facility. Except as provided in Title 50, chapter 16, part 5, information and records may be disclosed only:

     (1)  in communications between qualified professionals in the provision of services or appropriate referrals;

     (2)  when the recipient of services designates persons to whom information or records may be released, provided that or if a recipient of services is a ward and his the recipient's guardian or conservator designates in writing persons to whom records or information may be disclosed, such designation shall be valid in lieu of the designation by the recipient; except that nothing in. However, this section shall may not be construed to compel a physician, psychologist, social worker, nurse, attorney, or other professional person to reveal information which that has been given to him the physician, psychologist, social worker, nurse, attorney, or other professional person in confidence by members of a patient's family;.

     (3)  to the extent necessary to make claims on behalf of a recipient of aid, insurance, or medical assistance to which he a recipient may be entitled;

     (4)  for research if the department has promulgated rules for the conduct of research; such rules shall. Rules must include but are not be limited to the requirement that all researchers must shall sign an oath of confidentiality;.

     (5)  to the courts as necessary to for the administration of justice;

     (6)  to persons authorized by an order of court, after notice and opportunity for hearing to the person to whom the record or information pertains and the custodian of the record or information pursuant to the rules of civil procedure;

     (7)  to members of the mental disabilities board of visitors or their agents when necessary to perform their functions as set out in 53-21-104; and

     (8) to the mental health ombudsman when necessary to perform the ombudsman functions as provided in 2-15-210."

- END -




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